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Author:Deborah Bladon

"There's life outside of these walls." Clive points to the tan painted walls that line the corridor. "Don't work late tonight or any night."

I laugh at the amusement in his tone. He knows that I rarely make it out of the building before seven or eight. "I'll leave when I'm done for the day."

"You'll leave at six today," he counters. "I know you have dinner plans tonight."

"Who told you that?" I purse my lips together and narrow my eyes. "Have you been spying on me?"

"Hardly." He can't contain a deep chuckle. "Ivy was in earlier dropping off Lilly's birthday gift. She told me you two have plans."

"My best friend has a big mouth." I roll my eyes before I settle my gaze on Jordan. "I need to get back to work. I'll stop by your office after I look over the proposal."

"Think about what I said, Rowan." He glances at Jordan as she walks towards us. "Don't bury yourself in your work. One day you'll regret it."


"I'm not keen on going to Dallas." I tap the pen in my hand against the edge of my desk. "I love Dallas but I have a heavy workload here. Do you think you can handle the trip alone?"

The bright smile that instantly takes over her beautiful face is all the answer I need. Jordan Ayala is the head of cyber security of Corteck. She's the go-to genius I frequently seek out whenever I have a question about any of the new developments our security team is working on. She's brilliant and when she's not dazzling everyone at the office with her mind, she's at home with her husband and five-year-old son.

"I'd love to spend part of the weekend there. Is there any possible way we can make it into a retreat for Ricky and me?"

I know the Clive Parker answer to that question would be that she should make the three day trip without her husband so she can focus on work. He'd want her to back in the office on Friday morning but I'm not Clive Parker. "I'll arrange for Ricky to travel with you. You'll leave on Tuesday morning and come back Sunday. Will your mom take care of Dalton?"

"She'd love it, Rowan." She's on her feet, unable to contain her excitement. "Ricky and I haven't had any time alone since he got back."

Her husband, Ricky, was stationed overseas with the military for eighteen months. I'd watched the spirit in her seep out through the worried grimace that was almost always on her face. He's been back for several months now but their relationship has shifted. She's confided in me that they've had to rediscover one another and with a busy pre-schooler underfoot and another baby on the way, their time alone together is typically reserved for the bedroom or infrequent dinners out when they can afford it.

"You go and have a good time." I motion towards the papers strewn over my desk. "All I need you to do is take those two meetings we talked about and we're good."

"You're the best, Rowan." She leans down to wrap her arms around my neck. "You're an amazing friend. You never let me down."

I cling to her as she hugs me. I may be an amazing friend to her but she's not the friend I'm thinking about. I can't stop thinking about Caleb and Asher. I need to call my attorney before I do anything else. If I have to go down to the courthouse to personally bail Asher out, I'll do it. He needs me and if I let him down now, I may regret that decision for the rest of my life.

Chapter 5

"I don't understand what you mean," I try not to sound as utterly confused as I am. "That makes absolutely no sense. His brother told me that he was arrested this morning."

"The charges were dropped." She peers over the top of her reading glasses at me. "Technically he was never actually charged."

I'd called my family's go-to attorney, Devon Princeton, as soon as Jordan left my office. I'd explained the details of Asher's situation to her. Devon isn't a criminal defense attorney. The most notorious case she ever worked on was handling the preparation of my grandparents' wills and helping them decide if Miles or I was entitled to the crystal vase some elderly relative gave them at their wedding more than fifty-five years ago. She told me she'd call me back within a couple of hours, but I couldn't wait. I'd taken the subway uptown to her office hoping that I could garner the name of a criminal defense attorney from her so I could get Asher out of jail before the end of the day.

"The person who filed the charges, dropped them?" I'm not a lawyer but I do have a firm grasp on the basics. I can't claim that all of that is knowledge that I've gained through my time at Corteck. I have sat in a few meetings with our head legal counsel, Imogen Ford, when she was explaining corporate legal documents to me. She wouldn't have had a clue about what I could do to help Asher. I knew Devon would have some insight considering the fact that her son was arrested for marijuana possession outside of his high school just last fall.

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